An Integrative Harm Reduction Approach to Treating Substance Misuse with Special Attention to Cannabis

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This workshop is accredited by the OPQ and the CCPA!

Accumulating evidence is moving us away from moral, criminal and reductive disease models toward understanding substance use as a psychobiosocial process with multiple dimensions and individual variations. This shift calls for a personalized, integrative harm reduction psychotherapy for problematic substance users. Dr. Tatarsky will discuss the limitations of the dominant disease model and abstinence-only recovery narrative and introduce the psychobiosocial model of addiction and IHRP based on it. IHRP integrates harm reduction principles into psychotherapy and substance use treatment. It combines relational psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral and mindfulness techniques in a harm reduction frame to support positive change in substance use and related issues. IHRP’s seven therapeutic tasks will be described: managing the therapeutic alliance with harm reduction listening, the relationship as agent of healing, enhancing self-regulation and self-management skills, assessment as treatment, embracing ambivalence, harm reduction goal setting and personalized planning for positive change. Specific skills and strategies that participants can begin using immediately will be demonstrated. Given that Canada is moving toward legalizing marijuana (MJ), the workshop will give special attention to understanding the potential benefits and risks associated with MJ and the application of IHRP to develop ideal relationships with MJ.

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Dr. Andrew Tatarsky has developed Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy (IHRP) for treating the spectrum of risky and addictive behavior. IHRP brings psychoanalysis, CBT and mindfulness together in a harm reduction frame. The therapy has been described in his book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems, and a series of papers. Dr. Tatarsky holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the City University of New York and is a graduate of New York University’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is Founder and Director of the Center for Optimal Living in NYC, a treatment and training center; founding member and Past-President, Division on Addiction of New York State Psychological Association, and Member of the Medical and Clinical Advisory Boards of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Dr. Tatarsky has trained professionals in harm reduction, nationally and internationally.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have access to the course?

Forever! Once you've enrolled and paid, you'll have access to the course material for as long as you need. So devour it all in one weekend or take things slow. It's your choice!

I still have a question, how can I contact you?

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Send me an email at

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